Skip to main content

Pavalache Alexandru Daniel/Thinkstock

Two and a half centuries after scientist Carl Linnaeus proclaimed chocolate the "food of the gods," new research provides further evidence that it can lower blood pressure in mere mortals.

Published in The Cochrane Library, the short-term trials were conducted by researchers at Australia's National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne and University of Adelaide.

It's thought that flavanols, compounds contained in cocoa, can produce nitric oxide in the body, which relaxes and widens blood vessel walls. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

Story continues below advertisement

Among the 20 studies, each of the 856 healthy participants received daily portions ranging from three to 100 grams of chocolate, which equals 30 to 1,080 mg of flavanols. The trials lasted anywhere between two and 18 weeks.

A BBC article quotes lead researcher Karin Ried as saying, "Although we don't yet have evidence for any sustained decrease in blood pressure, the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease."

This is not the first time that dark chocolate has been linked to lowering blood pressure. In 2007, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported similar findings.

Who doesn't welcome an excuse to eat more rich, dark, velvety chocolate? (Milk varieties don't count.) Especially when the study suggests that high blood pressure can be attributed to 37 per cent of cardiovascular-related deaths in Western populations.

But don't go justifying dessert on account of these findings. The calories in chocolate don't vanish; in fact, people can derive the same benefits from blueberries, spinach, beans and skim milk. And, of course, exercise can help lower blood pressure while also burning calories.

Indeed, the study seems somewhat inconclusive, and the researchers concede that more trials are needed to determine whether cocoa products have a long-term impact on blood pressure.

Still, chocoholics can take some comfort in knowing that an extra square or two daily does no harm. So who else is craving chocolate right about now?

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Please note that our commenting partner Civil Comments is closing down. As such we will be implementing a new commenting partner in the coming weeks. As of December 20th, 2017 we will be shutting down commenting on all article pages across our site while we do the maintenance and updates. We understand that commenting is important to our audience and hope to have a technical solution in place January 2018.

Discussion loading… ✨